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Some Health Choices That Women Could Do Without

Posted by Brigette Courtot, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: September 08, 2009 at 04:00 pm

by Brigette Courtot, Policy Analyst, 
National Women's Law Center  

This post is part of a series on Women and Health Reform.

NWLC’s health and reproductive rights team does a lot of work around the importance of choice.  We advocate for reproductive choice, so that women can make important life decisions about whether and when to have children. We support choice in childbirth, because we believe that women and their families should be able to have a safe out-of-hospital birth if they so choose. And in our priorities for national health reform, we emphasize choice between public and private health insurance options, since women will benefit from the transparency, security, and competition that a public health insurance option promises. We support these choices because they promote a woman’s wellbeing.

But not all choices in health care are good.  When women can’t afford the health care they need, they are faced with choices that they’d be better off without.  In 2007, more than half of all women in the United States reported problems getting necessary health care because of cost.  They had a difficult choice between their own health care and other financial obligations, and the “other” won out.  Given the many responsibilities that women juggle every day, is this any surprise?  Imagine a young woman choosing between filling a prescription and making a student loan payment.  Or a mother choosing between a follow-up doctor’s visit and buying school supplies for her children.   Or a retiree choosing between a mammogram or paying this month’s electricity bill.  In a country with so many resources, that already spends so much on health care per capita, women should never have to make these sorts of choices. 

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Weekly Round-Up

Posted by Mary Robbins, Program Associate | Posted on: September 08, 2009 at 03:24 pm

by Mary Robbins, Program Associate, 
and Robin Reed, Online Outreach Manager, 
National Women's Law Center  

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Stop Using Reproductive Rights as an Excuse to Block Health Reform

Posted by Candace Webb, Outreach Manager | Posted on: September 04, 2009 at 03:43 pm

by Candace Webb, Outreach Manager,
National Women's Law Center 

Enough is enough. I’m getting sick and tired of efforts by anti-choice and anti-health care reform advocates trying to hijack health reform legislation by attacking abortion. 

It’s a no-brainer that health reform shouldn’t result in people losing insurance coverage they already have.  But that’s just what anti-choice advocates are trying to do.  Instead of standing with us to make health care more available and affordable for women and their families, anti-choice advocates are trying to use this bill to enact a nationwide abortion ban in the private insurance market.  That’s right: a nationwide ban that would prohibit women from buying health insurance that includes coverage of abortion, a ban that would take abortion coverage away from the millions – yes, millions – of women who already have it. 

So, anti-choicers are wrong on the merits.  Turns out, they’re wrong on the politics, too.  They seem to think that talking endlessly about abortion will convince Americans to oppose health care reform.  Wrong.  Our polling shows that voters don’t want politicians making decisions about their reproductive health care, with three-quarters saying that decisions about abortion in health care reform should be left to medical experts – not politicians.  Still, anti-choicers seem to think they’re bringing down health care reform by hollering about how terrible it is that insurance plans cover abortion.  Turns out, what actually scares people is eliminating coverage women currently have.  In fact, if reform eliminated current insurance coverage of reproductive health services such as birth control or abortion, nearly two-thirds of Americans (60%) would oppose the plan.  Scary, indeed.

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Lots of People Listening to Latinas!

Posted by Lara S. Kaufmann, Senior Counsel & Director of Education Policy for At-Risk Students | Posted on: September 03, 2009 at 06:56 pm

by Lara S. Kaufmann, Senior Counsel, 
National Women’s Law Center 

We are really excited about all of the attention surrounding the report we just released, Listening to Latinas: Barriers to High School Graduation. The report has gotten some good media coverage, and we’ve already been contacted by a number of people who heard about it and want to know what they can do to help address the dropout crisis for Latinas (41 percent of whom do not graduate from high school in four years -– if they graduate at all, which has extremely serious ramifications for their economic security and health). Well, there is a lot that schools and policy makers can do (more on that below), and we need all the help we can get! 

To explore the obstacles they face, we surveyed and interviewed Latinas across the country and the teachers and program staff who work with them every day. The girls we spoke with have very high aspirations. Many of them want to become doctors, nurses, lawyers and scientists. In fact, 98 percent of those we surveyed said that they want to at least graduate from high school, and 80 percent said that they hope to go to college. But far too many of them doubt they can make it: one-third of the girls we surveyed said they do not think they will be able to reach their educational goals.

As my colleague Christie asked in her blog post last week, “Why are so many Latinas forced to abandon their dreams?” They face so many challenges, many of which Christie very eloquently explained:

Many come from low income families, lack educational role models in their lives, and have parents who don’t speak English and have little understanding of the U.S. educational system. And many others end up tracked into lower level classes at underperforming schools — a product of stereotypes or deflated expectations by teachers and counselors. Still others fail to believe in themselves. … They know the financial barriers to affording college, and because they don’t see many professional Latinas around them, they cannot envision themselves succeeding academically or professionally.

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Paycheck Fairness Act Heating Up

Posted by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment | Posted on: September 03, 2009 at 05:29 pm

by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice President for Education and Employment, 
National Women’s Law Center 

The Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would strengthen current laws against wage discrimination, now has 33 co-sponsors in the Senate.

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Without Providers, There is No Choice

Posted by Julia Kaye, Former Health Policy Associate | Posted on: September 02, 2009 at 05:51 pm

by Julia Kaye, Health Policy Associate, 
National Women's Law Center 

The Last Abortion Doctor.” “The Abortion Evangelist.” “Abortion Stigma Affects Doctors’ Training and Choices.” In the wake of Dr. Tiller’s murder last May, news articles are finally trumpeting a steadily emerging reality: the number of abortion providers in the U.S., and particularly providers that perform abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, is plummeting.  An article in yesterday’s Washington Post attributes this steady decline to a toxic combination of violence and/or the threat thereof, and a lack of urgency among young doctors and medical students who never had to witness the horrific consequences of back-alley abortions in the pre-Roe era.  The result is that legality doesn’t guarantee access to abortion, even—especially—for women and families in the most desperate and dangerous of situations.

There now remains only a handful of doctors in the country specializing in the 1 percent of abortions that take place after the 20th week—including Dr. Warren Hern and Dr. Leroy Carhart.  The doctors work in war-time conditions, driving bulletproof cars and avoiding rooms in their clinics where the windows are too exposed.  They are the ones who care for a woman whose fetus would be born with a lethal heart abnormality, or without a face.  The ones who help a woman who may face a life-threatening uterine rupture were she to carry the pregnancy to term.  The ones who provide relief to a rape victim who would rather commit suicide than carry to term a fetus whose every kick induces flashbacks of the attack.  They provide life-saving care to women and families in dire situations; they are doctors in the most heroic sense.  But they are few, and they don’t have enough hours in the day.  Though they are doing all that they can to cover the patients that Dr. Tiller would have seen, his death was a profound loss that has made it all the more difficult—and in some cases, impossible—for women to find the care they may desperately need.

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New Video - What's at Stake: The Dropout Crisis for Girls

Posted by Kolbe Franklin, Program Associate | Posted on: September 02, 2009 at 02:42 pm

by Kolbe Franklin, Program Associate, 
National Women’s Law Center 

Every year, an estimated one in four girls drops out of high school — and the rates are even worse for girls of color.

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NWLC in the News

Posted by Mary Robbins, Program Associate | Posted on: September 02, 2009 at 04:15 am

by Mary Robbins, Program Associate, 
National Women's Law Center 

NEA Today, September 1, 2009
Falling Through the Cracks: Latina Dropouts

National Public Radio, August 31, 2009
Latina High School Dropout Rate Rises

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